Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Wellness and Inclusive Services in Education


College of Education


Zeynep Isik-Ercan, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

Brent Elder, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Nicole Edwards, Ph.D.


Critical consciousness; Inclusive education; Intersectional identities; Self-efficacy; Social justice; Teacher agency


Special education teachers; Children with disabilities--Education


Special Education and Teaching | Teacher Education and Professional Development


Inclusive education transcends the physical integration of students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms, demanding a commitment toward socially just inclusive practices. The purpose of this exploratory mixed-methods study is to investigate inclusive co-teachers' critical consciousness and agency in socially just inclusive practices, specifically for students of color with disabilities. The quantitative phase, with a survey of 241 teachers, revealed a structural equation model showing relationships between critical awareness about intersectionality, attitudes toward inclusion, self-efficacy in inclusive teaching, agency, and critical action. The open-ended responses indicated two teacher profiles based on their level of critical consciousness. The qualitative phase included interviews and community of practice meetings with intervention and discussions with five inclusive science co-teachers about their beliefs, experiences, and practices. Qualitative findings demonstrated that teachers’ critical awareness of the co-construction of race and disability and its connection with normalcy, white privilege, and deficit-based assumptions and their critical reflection on their roles and responsibilities to attend to equity and justice encouraged their agency toward socially just practices. This study has implications for theory, policy, research, and practice, culminating in the proposed sociopolitical, ecological model of teacher agency in enacting socially just inclusive education.

Available for download on Wednesday, April 29, 2026